In New Jersey, fault is not typically a relevant factor in regards to the divorce issues, although there are certain exceptions (such as financial fault or issues relating to inability to care for the children). If a party has an extramarital relationship prior to a divorce, it usually has no impact on the outcome of the divorce action – other than providing grounds for a divorce, which is unnecessary since New Jersey has irreconcilable differences. When a party begins a divorce action, the marriage is considered “dead” and if either or both parties are dating, it will usually not have any effect on the divorce. However, it can affect the other parties’ emotional state, which in turn can impact their decision making in the divorce process. Many times parties allow their emotions to govern their decision making, which can lead a party to take an unreasonable position because they are angry or upset over their spouse dating someone during the process.
It is important for parents to be on the same page in regards to introducing children to a new significant other, and parents should always take into consideration the children’s emotion state prior to introducing the children to a new relationship. However, dating during a divorce does not usually impact child custody. The exception is if a party can show that the children will be in danger or somehow emotionally harmed by being around the person that the other party is dating.
As with many issues in divorce cases, a party should consult with their attorney and also use good judgment in deciding when to start dating and whether to make their divorcing spouse or the children aware of a new relationship. Coming to court during the divorce process with a new boyfriend or girlfriend and a tan after having vacation with a new partner is never a good idea.
William J. Rudnik. is a family law attorney at Gebhardt & Kiefer, P.C. where he successfully represents clients in Family Law court in matters involving divorce, property division and more.